By Lewis Martin
Grade inflation is back in the headlines this week, with universities minister Sam Gyimah announcing that it will be incorporated into how universities are ranked under the Teaching Excellence Framework. There is statistical evidence to back up this policy change – according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the number of first class degrees being awarded has grown by 18% between 2012/13 and 2016/17. Whilst it is statistically true that grades are inflating at the university level, there are a number of issues with the current discourse around grade inflation that are not being properly addressed by HE decision makers.
By Dan Davison
Examinations are woven into the fabric of student life. From the ‘Key Stage’ National Curriculum assessments I sat in childhood through to the tests I took as a Master’s student, every stage of my education has known the familiar cycle of revision, testing, marking and grading. It was not until I became a precariously employed university tutor that I realised how dangerously uncritical we are of that cycle. By this point it seems so natural to make people sit exams at various points in their lives that it scarcely occurs to the public consciousness that students and teachers might be better off without such a regimented approach to learning.
by Alex Powell
I’m sure you’ve all heard it at least once. ‘40% is all I need. It’s first year, it doesn’t really count for anything.’ It’s obvious, right? If the year doesn’t count towards your final degree classification, then you don’t really need to try. Right?
by Lewis Martin
This week, former education minister Lord Adonis decided to reopen a debate that was seemingly long-dead. During a report to a House of Lords Committee, he stated that the decision to allow polytechnics to become universities 25 years ago was “a very serious mistake”. This problematic claim reveals the real views of someone who has lately been seen as posing significant challenges of the higher education sector’s issues.
by Lewis Martin
CW: death, disease, corpses.
Last week we heard that the number of people applying to become nursing students has fallen by 19% in the past year. As this is the first application cycle since government cuts to NHS bursaries, for many this will not be much of a shock. It’s clear that the government’s decision to take away this provision that allowed many students to attend their courses will have serious detrimental effects, not only for the institutions that train nurses but for the NHS as a whole.
by Alex Powell
In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.
There is a severe dissonance between the conception of higher education that the Conservatives purport to support and the policies presented in their 2017 manifesto. In order to show this I have to work from within the Tory understanding of the purpose of higher education, and the role international students play within achieving that. Despite my adoption of this form of argumentation, I wish to make it clear that I do not subscribe to the idea that higher education is purely about reputation, financial stability, or the production of an effective workforce. Further, I do not accept the idea that international students are valuable only in terms of what they can offer to either educational institutions or the UK more generally. The current treatment of international students, and the blatant disregard shown for their welfare, is one of the most indefensible aspects of modern higher education policy.
by Sunetra Senior
It’s becoming a popular thought in public consciousness that women ought to focus on their own autonomy and watch out for co-dependence on their closest female friends. It’s a third/fourth wave feminist philosophy that gained momentum through the hopeful nineties years, evidenced in such films as teenage clique critique ‘The Craft (1996). And surely, the thinker will say, a continued focus on personal freedom for women can only good? To these people I say: please remember we’re living in an unhinged, manipulative age.
With the infamous/illicit (?) inauguration on 20th January, we’ve just had Trumpeted to us social regression by at least 20 or so years so if the good fight for feminism is to keep up we must adapt the strategy accordingly. This means once again pushing for a support-group, grass-roots sort of approach – not unlike the Suffragettes who fought for the women’s right to vote in the early 19th century – whereupon more women not only campaign together, but sincerely support each other in their private relationships. Continue Reading
By Lewis Martin
This month Oxford University, in conjunction with the Sutton Trust, launched a summer school aimed at attracting more “white, working class boys” to the university. While this has received praise from some sectors of society, it does not address the real reasons why working class people (not just boys or men) are not attending universities like Oxford.
by Olivia Hanks
The news that George Osborne is the new editor of the London Evening Standard was met with widespread disbelief in Westminster. Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that the former chancellor was “taking multitasking to an extreme level – what a joke”.
There are so many angles from which to object to this appointment that it’s hard to know where to start. Firstly, the brazen conflict of interest has already led to speculation about whether Osborne will be forced to step down as an MP. A prominent MP becoming editor of a major newspaper is a serious threat to UK democracy (we seem to be averaging about one a day now), and is sure to diminish our reputation around the world.Continue Reading
By Liam Hawkes
“You interviewed well but unfortunately we just didn’t feel that you were right for this particular position.”
These are the words that no one seeking employment wants to hear. Looking for a job, especially during times of uncertainty and instability, can be a terrifying prospect. My own recent experience of this has got me wondering about the connection between job seeking, rejection and our mental health.
By Robyn Banks
Jo Swo, UEA Student Union’s Welfare Officer, bit a bouncer at the LCR. Social media went haywire, the anti-SU brigade had a field day and The Tab published no less than five articles on the subject. A motion was put to union council for a vote of no confidence, which, if passed, would have resulted in her being removed from her position, but the motion was then withdrawn and it was a controversy. In a surprising plot twist an online petition was started to create a safe space for bouncers on campus. Then the council voted to censure Jo, a public condemning of her behaviour which doesn’t directly affect her position. Some people were happy, some people were angry, somebody started another petition to reinstate the vote of no confidence in Jo, and there was apparently a lot of excitement on all sides. One tab article even successfully mimicked a crime thriller with its dramatic depiction of the council meeting. However, after a long time watching from the side lines as one of UEA’s female full time officers was subjected to a barrage of seemingly groundless abuse, one comment in particular stood out to me:Continue Reading
by Zoe Harding
Well folks, these last few weeks your humble correspondent has been travelling around Eastern Europe on a hastily-booked last chance tour. I’m four cities in and thought I’d share a little of the mood on the street from Warsaw, Vienna, Prague and Budapest. Part one of this article looks at Warsaw and Prague.
by Candice Nembhard
I graduated! I actually graduated. Mortarboard thrown, picture taken, congratulatory conversations with parents and friends and then you hear the dreaded, “What are you doing next?”
It’s not that I have never given much thought to what would come post-university — quite the opposite. The last few months prior to dressing in my cap and gown have been filled with endless job applications, copious redrafts of my CV and looking into Masters programmes both in the UK and elsewhere – I cannot be the only one. I am certain the same can be said of other BAME students whose road to graduate employment is a lot more uncertain and suspiciously taxing.Continue Reading
by Robyn Banks
They said he was unelectable. Throughout Corbyn’s rise to labour leader, those of us who supported him were continually told not to. Conservative commentators watched in angst, and told us it would never happen, and the right wing of the labour party begged members to vote for somebody more moderate, more appealing to the wider electorate, more ‘electable’. But, still, he garnered 59.5% of votes in the 2015 Labour leadership election. 87,000 people joined the labour party after his victory, and more than half of labour members this January had joined since the last election, with many signing up in order to vote for him in the leadership race. 13,000 more have joined this week to support him. It’s clear that he offers something that many people want.Continue Reading
by Faizal Nor Izham
As part of a new government clampdown on immigration, Theresa May recently unveiled new plans to ban international students from working during their studies — replacing current laws enabling them to work up to 10 hours a week — as well as forcing them out of the UK upon graduation. This is in spite of the fact that the country continues to suffer from skills shortages in many industries.
The plan is part of the Conservatives’ pledge to cut net migration to ‘tens of thousands’ by 2020. About 121,000 non-EU students arrived in the UK from June 2013-14, while only 51,000 were reported to have left — resulting in a net influx of 70,000 migrants.The move followed a previous plan by May to force overseas students to return home after they have graduated, which had been blocked by the Tory leadership. The party’s previous pledge, from its 2010 general election manifesto, would have required students to leave the country and re-apply if they want to switch to another course or apply for a work permit.Continue Reading
by Natasha Senior
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity national End Austerity demonstration takes place on Saturday 20th June. Assemble: 12pm, Bank of England (Queen Victoria Street). March to: Parliament Square.
Like a storm in the sea sending a tidal surge our way, the past 5 years under austerity tell us of looming devastation. We saw it gather momentum on the horizon, as the waves of cuts started to roll in — pay freezes for the public sector, caps on benefits and cuts to social housing. This left in its wake a falling GDP per capita, a decline in affordable housing, and the rise of food banks. And now that those responsible for this have been re-elected, we are shamelessly informed that the storm is not over, the worst is yet to come and we will not be rescued.Continue Reading
by Antonio Esposito Ryan
Pablo Iglesias’ party Podemos is just over 100 days old, yet it threatens to dismantle the monotonous duplicity in Spanish politics. Both the centre left ‘socialist’ PSOE and the centre right Populares are under threat from the party’s recent surge in support.
Iglesias, a lecturer at the University Compultense de Madrid, was known for his hyperactive stunts — such as asking his students to stand on their tables and assess power. He is unique in his approach to critiquing power amongst his academic counterparts; consistently reminding his students to continually scrutinize power. Iglesias vehemently opposes the neo-liberal capitalist orthodoxy of Thatcher and Reagan, and created Podemos as a backlash response to the highly critical politicians deriding the anti-austerity ‘indignado’ protests of 2011 in Puerta Del Sol. The establishment moaned saying the protestors should create their own political party. Iglesias responded to the request with a miraculous result.Continue Reading
by Mike Vinti
Earlier this week it was announced that Virgin Money will be putting out a series of credit cards bearing classic Sex Pistols iconography. The reaction to this has been pretty much universally horrified, as well it should — but really, what did everyone expect?
From the start the Sex Pistols were more about the image than integrity, they swapped Glen Matlock, the band’s only songwriter, for Sid Vicious because Matlock wasn’t punk enough; they let Malcolm McLaren run the show so long as they got paid, and last time anyone even thought about Johnny Rotten was when he did those fucking butter adverts. Virgin Records was the home of the ‘Pistols following their split from EMI and released the bands only studio album to date, the only thing shocking about the new credit cards is the fact it took them 30 years to come up with the idea.
Now this isn’t to say that the Sex Pistols are without merit. Or that you shouldn’t be disgusted by the prospect of some yuppie Richard-Branson-wannabe popping into his local branch of ‘Champagne and Fromage’ to buy some brie with his new ‘Anarchy for the UK’ credit card. But can we please let go of the idea that punk begins and ends with Johnny Rotten and co?Continue Reading
by Faizal Nor Izham
The recent Rohingya crisis in South East Asia is nothing new — clashes between the ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar, have been ongoing since 2012 through a series of riots. By October of that year, Muslims of all ethnicities had begun to be targeted.
The riots were supposedly triggered by widespread fears among Buddhist Rakhines that they would soon become a minority in their own ancestral state. Riots sparked after weeks of sectarian disputes, which included a gang-rape and murder of a Rakhine woman by Rohingyas and the killing of ten Burmese Muslims by Rakhines.
It is the refusal from fellow South East Asian nations to
take in tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees which
has been the main source of recent controversy.
by Liam McCafferty
Over the last five years, students have felt the impact of austerity. With the recent election shock of a Conservative majority, we can expect further hardship: more cuts, more pain. But how exactly have students been affected by austerity, and why should we care?
by Robyn Banks
The Focus E15 campaign began suddenly in August 2013 when 29 young or expectant mothers, who had been residing in the Focus E15 hostel for homeless young people, were served eviction notices by East Thames Housing Association after Newham council severed its funding. Appealing to the council for help, the E15 mums were told that due to cuts to housing benefit and a lack of social housing, they would have to be relocated as far away as Manchester or Birmingham and suffer the consequences of being plucked suddenly from their homes, families and support networks.
The move, which many consider to be one of many changes taking place involving the relocation of people on low incomes to outside of London — a form of social cleansing — prompted one of the most fiery and successful grassroots anti-cuts campaigns under the conservative government. The Focus E15 mums got organised, protested and held marches and occupations for ‘social housing, not social cleansing’ to pressure Newham Council. Although the campaign was born from individual need and the right to have a roof over your head, when the E15 mums act women everywhere benefit.Continue Reading
by Robyn Banks
The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on the 8th March in 1975, but the day actually has its roots in a variety of strikes and class struggles across industrialised nations long before.
On March 8th in 1857 there was a strike at a New York City garment factory. Here women and girls between the ages of 13 and 25, mostly Jewish, Russian and Italian immigrants, worked 81 hours a week for three dollars, of which one and a quarter went for room and board. The strike was sparked when factory foremen, noticing that the women were less ‘energetic’ if they were allowed to eat before working, changed the factory opening time to 5AM. For a day the factory workers marched and picketed, demanding improved working conditions, a ten hour day and equal rights for women. Their ranks were broken up by police. Fifty one years later, on March 8th 1908, their sisters in the needle trades in New York marched again in honour of the 1867 March, this time demanding the vote, an end to sweatshops and child labour. And then, in November 1909, came the uprising of the 20,000.
by Lesley Grahame, Green Party Norwich South candidate.
People who ‘get on their bikes’, as Conservative politicians advise, do so for many reasons — some life-threatening, some ‘merely’ economic. All but the wealthiest of them are among vulnerable groups that can become scapegoats when governments need to divert attention from their failures. Migrants should not be blamed for a country’s woes as they are people simply seeking a better life and do not deserve to be demonised.
However the anti-migrant rhetoric rarely addresses the colonial, environmental, and economic causes of migration. These include conflict, and also the aftermath of human rights abuses and absolute poverty. Britain claims a proud tradition of providing refuge in such cases. If human rights don’t apply to everyone, they don’t apply to anyone, and I’d challenge anyone to pledge never to leave the UK if we were sunk by say, rising sea levels or a fascist regime. However at times of major migration, there are always those who want to keep the stranger out.
by Katy Quigley, UEA Unison Equalities Rep
Over the last six weeks a campaign has slowly taken shape for the Living Wage to be introduced at UEA. Whilst this mainly affects the trade union Unison’s members, the two other trade unions on campus – UCU and Unite – as well as the Union of UEA students, have all begun to work together to ensure that those at the lowest end of the pay scale are paid a fair wage.
With the minimum wage set at £6.50 for those aged 21 and over, many people are confused about the point of a Living Wage campaign, or even what the Living Wage would mean in real terms. The reality is that the minimum wage simply does not pay enough to provide what members of the public, according to research undertaken by the University of Loughborough, deem an ‘acceptable standard of living’. At the moment this is set at £7.85. The Living Wage is not an act of charity: paying workers a fair wage for their living gives them dignity, reduces sickness and absence rates, and improves staff retention rates. When a business does not pay the Living Wage it is local support groups, council services, and national welfare that pick up more of the bill to top up the worker’s income.
Employers who do not pay the Living Wage are therefore asking people to earn their poverty, and the University of East Anglia is unfortunately one of the culprits.
by Josh Clare
What strikes me most about students working alongside their studies is the transition to this state of being becoming the accepted norm. Not that long ago someone working whilst being at University was the exception, then it became probable that a student would have some sort of job and now it’s a near certainty. Why? Because it’s a necessity. A website called ‘Save the Student‘ lists getting a part time job as a ‘top tip’ (number 3 of 5) to plug the (growing) gap in students finances.
by Justice for Cleaners SOAS
The Justice for Cleaners SOAS campaign is led by the cleaning staff at SOAS, with the support of students and university staff. The cleaners campaign began in 2006, and in 2008 won decent London living wage. Last year, after a series of strikes, the campaign won their demands for sick pay, holiday pay, and pensions.
However, the campaign has not yet won their key demand of the cleaning staff, which is to be brought back in house (to work directly to SOAS instead of a subcontractor). Since the early 1990s SOAS cleaners have been subcontracted by a succession of private companies, all of which have been allegations of victimization and intimidation of the cleaning staff, including persecution of the J4C campaigners and trade union representatives, and through attempts to undermine working conditions.
by Matilda Carter.
Unemployment in this country, as well as in most of the Western world, is the buzzword on people’s lips. Our generation is constantly demonised as lazy, feckless and unable to face the harsh realities of adult life. We lack the work ethic of those before us, or so people say, and our entire country is doomed to economic failure because of it. Many of us choose to live off of minimum wage jobs and pursue other interests; there are even some people, though few in number, who choose to live off of welfare. Why? Well the right wing press would tell you it’s because our parents did a bad job of raising us. I would argue that it’s because we’re undergoing a fundamental shift in our way of life, and we’re still wedded to old, outdated ideas.
by Ella Gilbert and Francis Bell
Bartenders, waiters, baristas and other hospitality workers have one thing above all else in common: we are over-worked, under-paid and misrepresented. We are both bartenders, and we deal with drunken idiots, entitled twats, and aggressive yobs on a daily basis. Woman bartenders also have to deal with unwanted sexual advances and harassment, comments about our clothing choice, and implicit assertions about who we are and what we’re doing there. Despite all of this, we value our work, and we want to do it well – for those that actually appreciate what we’re doing, and for those that are well-behaved and fun to spend time with.
All of these things were important at the inception of the Norwich Bartenders’ and Hospitality Union. Norwich has a pub for every night of the year, as well as its fair share of cafés, restaurants, hotels and other service industry employers. We are committed to a multi-faceted approach to the hospitality industry: we want to improve our members’ skills and create a pool of people who are committed to, and good at, their jobs. We also want to challenge the daily issues faced by workers in the sector – discrimination, low pay, difficult customers, demanding management and limited employment rights. On top of that, we want to educate people in the sector on their rights and represent them in any employment disputes or grievances that arise with their employers. In that regard, we’re committed to forming positive relationships with management, rather than antagonising them, and demonstrating that the NBHU is a collection of workers who really care, and are the kind of employees you want, and need, to run a business in Norwich.